Ched Evans trolls should be jailed like their rapist idol
Hundreds of social media trolls have published the name and identity of the woman raped by footballer Ched Evans, forcing her to move five times. His supporters are deluded, but the technology companies which provide a platform for her harassment need to do more to protect her, writes Steven George-Hilley
“It was unpleasant, in a hotel room, I believe, and she was – she had far too much to drink.” That was the assessment from daytime TV veteran broadcaster Judy Finnigan to an audience of millions on ITV’s lunchtime show Loose Women just a few months ago.
Without prior knowledge of the case and an understanding of what really happened on that night in Rhyl, Wales in May 2011, you could be forgiven for thinking the 19 year old victim of Sheffield United footballer Ched Evans, was a drunken indiscretion which got out of hand.
This is clearly the view taken by many hundreds, if not thousands of Ched Evans supporters who have taken to social media to reveal the new identity of the rape victim, forcing her to move house five times in three years and spend Christmas apart from her friends and family.
Judging by some of the material obtained by The Commentator, and passed to the relevant authorities, the internet trolls have every determination to make life impossible for the young woman, now 23 years old and living in a new location with a different name for her own protection. The victim is branded a slut, a liar and fantasist, previous images have been uploaded to the internet and alternate details of her new life have been circulated.
‘I couldn’t even see her over Christmas because it’s too risky for her to visit me. I don’t even know where she is living at the moment, so I haven’t been able to give her the Christmas presents I bought her,’ the woman’s father told the Mail on Sunday.
So why do the Ched Evans internet trolls have so much faith in their rapist idol’s version of events? And what makes them risk contempt of court proceedings, a heavy fine and potentially prison for a man convicted – unanimously – by a jury?
A quick look at the case file and subsequent appeal paperwork paints a very different picture of the incident to that asserted by Evans and his online army of supporters, who claim his innocence.
On 29 May 2011 the victim finished work shortly before midnight, drinking some alcohol, went home, then went to a bar, where she arrived at just after 1.30am. She drank vodka and left at about 3am. She said that she could not recall leaving the bar.
Upon leaving the bar CCTV shows she went to a kebab shop and, “while she was inside the kebab shop she was unsteady on her feet, at one point she fell over and landed on the floor.”
Later, outside the kebab shop she could be seen eating pizza from a large box, although she was also seen to stumble, squat, lose her balance, and walk unsteadily. In fact, the 19 year old in question was so drunk she left her handbag in the kebab shop.
She then stumbled into Clayton McDonald, another footballer, who had become separated from his friend Ched Evans on their night out in Rhyl. The pair got in a taxi and McDonald sent a text message to Ched Evans saying that he had ‘got a bird’ or words to that effect. The taxi driver said he thought that the victim’s upper clothing was somewhat dishevelled.
When they arrived at The Premier Inn, which had been previously booked under McDonald’s name, the night porter testified that the victim was ‘extremely drunk’ as she headed to the room.
McDonald and the victim had sex, shortly afterwards, in response to the text message received, Ched Evans arrived at the hotel. By his own testimony, he then also had sex with the victim – a woman which he had never met or spoken to prior to entering the room - and then left via the fire escape.
Evans and McDonald said the sex was consensual. But they left the girl in the room on her own, with McDonald telling the night porter to ‘keep an eye on her’ because she was sick, as he left the Premier Inn.
The victim awoke at 11.30am, realising she was naked and had urinated in the bed. She had a headache and was confused. She reported the incident to the police.
Evans and McDonald were arrested and charged, McDonald was acquitted on the grounds that his interaction, travel via taxi with the woman contrasted heavily with the sudden arrival and fire escape departure of his friend Ched Evans, who was found guilty.
One only has to examine the facts of this case to recognise that the unanimous guilty verdict of the jury was right and justified. As Evans told the Police at the time, “we could have had any girl we wanted in that nightclub.”
Well on those grounds, can the Ched Evans Twitter trolls explain why their idol chose to target a young girl he had never met or spoken to for sex? A young girl who had been seen falling over in a kebab shop, stumbling and ‘extremely drunk’ according to witness testimonies. A young girl who had lost her handbag and was ‘in no condition to have sexual intercourse,’ according to the judge.
Ched Evans was found guilty of rape for good reason and those making his victim’s new life a misery on social media should firstly recognise that their idol is not the wronged man they seem to think he is. Secondly they should understand that their persistent harassment of a vulnerable woman who has been through such a trauma isn’t just immoral, it’s illegal.
Companies like Google, Twitter and Facebook have a duty to protect the anonymity of UK citizens subject to this kind of abuse. As I finish this article, photographs of the victim and her name are still lingering around in rogue posts and tweets.
Supporting rape victims isn’t something the law can handle alone, and technology companies need to do more to show they are willing to fight this evil, and bring those responsible for it to justice.
Steven George-Hilley is a director at the Parliament Street think tank and a Conservative Party activist. He is a Contributing Editor to The Commentator @StevenGeorgia
We are wholly dependent on the kindness of our readers for our continued work. We thank you in advance for any support you can offer.